Book Reviews – July 2010

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BIKE SNOB Systematically & Mercilessly Realigning the World of Cycling
Eben Weiss as BikeSnobNYC
Chronicle Books San Francisco
Street: 05.05.10
Just as preachers seem less pedantic away from their pulpits, BikeSnobNYC puts the brakes on his trademark sarcasm when he shifts from blog to book. The opening “Run to Rockaway” passage seems somehow incomplete without his self-referential hyperlinks or his blurry photos. When writing online at bikesnobnyc.blogspot.com, he combines misinterpretation with innuendo in a sometimes sexual, usually deviant manner while skewering cyclists of all stripes­—a velodramatic Shakespeare trading in analogies, puns and invented language. But as an author seeking space on his mother’s bookshelf, his blade is bated and unvenomed. Dulled, but not a dullard, BikeSnobNYC shines as a cycling advocate.  He alternately channels Sheldon Brown when diagnosing bike-related pain and John Forester as he invites cyclists to join him on the streets—WHERE THEY BELONG. Make no mistake—this snob’s wicked thorn deflates the egos of all pretentious cyclists, whether urban, cross, fixed, recumbent, downhill, commuter, pro or freak … a pointed thrill for fans and haters alike. Sticker pack included.  –John Carlisle

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Eating Clean
Diane A. Welland, M.S., R.D
Alpha Books
Street: 12.01.09
Although by and at large the intentions of this guide are good, I didn’t love it. It was generic and redundant and, worse still, it was filled with misinformation and false promises. Sure, I’m obsessed with this kind of stuff, spending way more time than I should reading about nutrition in some sort of sick ritual. But really, for a book claiming such dedication to clean eating, I was horrified that the recipes were littered with soy and soy products. As a vegetarian, I understand the importance of ensuring you get the protein you need, and as someone who is sensitive to dairy, I definitely understand the need for substitutes—but soy? It’s one of the most common allergens, one of the 9 major GMO foods, typically highly processed and has some intense medicinal properties. Not something you want to be casually including in your ‘clean’ diet. It also touted agave nectar, which was recently exposed as being highly processed and more harmful to blood sugar levels than previously thought. And, while enticing gluten- and dairy-free individuals in the introductory chapters with promises of recipes avoiding these ingredients, I found a majority of recipes contained one or both, with no indication of which recipes may specifically avoid them. I’m no idiot when it comes to eating clean, so for those of you who may be, I say avoid this book. I’ve read better. —Ischa Buchanan

Plan – B Theatre Company: More Plays From Behind The Zion Curtain
Matthew Ivan Bennett, Jenifer Nii & Debora Threedy, Eric Samuelsen
Juniper Press and Oxide Books
Street: 05.01
Having seen Amerigo and Wallace in the Rose Wagner Theater this year, reading back over them in print was crucial to me fully understanding those conceptually rich plays. Plan – B continues to put out a consistently high level of theater year after year, relying solely on dialogue and acting to get across their sometimes controversial ideas. This collection is no exception. Block 8 delves into the relationship between a young Japanese college student and an aging Mormon housewife in a Japanese internment camp outside of Delta, Utah. Wallace gives the parallel biographies of Wallace Stegner and Wallace Thurman, two brilliant writers who called Salt Lake City home for some time. Amerigo and Di Esperienza take notable creative license in the retelling of the lives of Leonardo Di Vinci, Amerigo Vespucci and Christopher Columbus. Di Esperienza highlights the conflicting personalities of Leonardo as personified by the Mona Lisa and Judas painted from The Last Supper. Amerigo takes place in purgatory in which Vespucci and Columbus bicker endlessly about who discovered America. Gaining some distance from the spectacle of the play allow the whip-smart dialogue and high-concept ideas to fully leave their mark in this highly enjoyable read. –Ryan Hall

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